(Photo: AgroIndustry Secretary, Luis Miguel Etchevehere (with the mic) headed the conference)
Last week, the AgroIndustry Secretariat run the first roundtable on the competitiveness of the gene-editing industry. The meeting was headed by secretary Luis Miguel Etchevehere, which said he is proud about the Argentine regulatory system on biotechnology and gene editing, remembering the audience that the Biotechnology National Advisor Committee (Conabia) was reelected by the FAO as Reference Centre.
The Secretariat invited representatives from the local gene-editing industry, regulatory affairs consultants, and agricultural counselors from foreign countries, like the US, Spain, Germany, the EU, China, Brazil, and Paraguay. The National Agriculture Technology Institute (INTA) was represented by Sergio Feingold, while Simplot Company was represented by Juan Pablo Burzaco, Regulatory Affairs manager.
“One of the critical points is how the world will harmonize the regulatory system on the gene-editing technology and its products”, National Biotechnology director Martin Lema said in a dialogue with eFarmNewsAr.com. “Our regulatory scheme inspirited the Chilean, Brazilian and Colombian ones, and in a few days Paraguay will publish its own”, Lema added.
This media was able to access the official powerpoint presented at the meeting. It showed that unlike the GMO traits, gene-editing initiatives are being carried forward by small and medium national companies (or public institutions). For example in the last 23 years, only 4 large global companies, 2 foreign medium companies, and 2 Argentine SMEs and Public research were responsible for the total GMO’s approved in the country. Unlike this, in the New Breeding Technologies area or non-GMO technology, four national SMEs and Public Research, five foreign SMEs and only one global company are registering products.
One of these SMEs present in the meeting was Bioheuris, the first plant gene-editing company in the country. “We are working in the developing of weed control systems based in the combination of elite lines with herbicide-tolerance technologies, introduced in the crops by gene-editing”, Dr. Carlos Perez, CEO of Bioheuris, explained to eFarmNewsAr.
“The arrival of these breeding technologies is a great opportunity for the ultimate generation companies in the biotechnology arena like Bioheuris reach the markets”, he added.
Dr. Lema pointed out the three major axes that started to discuss in the first meeting. A) How to communicate to the public opinion what gene-editing is and how people and farmers will able to benefit from them; B) How to implement a positive and constructive dialogue between countries around gene-editing; and 3) What about the Intellectual Property Rights on the gene-editing technologies and its products.
“We are confident that Argentine gene-editing companies like Bioheuris have a great potential to brings solutions to farmers and consumers around the world, with the strategic support of partners which also are confident in the quality of the Argentine science and technology system”, Dr. Perez said.